Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween!

Here's our little butterfly... Going trick-or-treating tonight for the first time! How great is this weather for all the kids!? Hope everyone has a fun Halloween!

First Paid Session!

I just did a photo session with a family we know - the mom is a Spanish teacher at Grandville HS, where Ron works. She's talked for a while about me taking photos of her kids / family, and Wednesday I e-mailed her with a last-minute proposition to do it, since it was going to be such a nice day Thursday. She wrote back and said yes, so we met at Spring Grove Park (which as it turns out is quite the mecca for photographers). We were only there for a little over an hour and I got plenty of great photos of her kids, and couple decent ones of the whole family (much more challenging). I learned a lot in that hour, too! They have a 2 and a half year old son, and a 9 month old daughter. The kids were great about playing, smiling, and being themselves! I have started going through some of their photos, and I am really happy with how many of them turned out.

The other cool thing - this is the first time I got paid for a photo session. I got a nice little session fee when we were done, and they will also be paying me for prints. In case you didn't already know, I am trying to get a little photography "business" off the ground, although I definitely do not want to rush into it. I would rather build up my confidence, and continue accumulating better and better equipment, before I get in over my head. In the meantime though, I can do some sessions for relatively cheap and still make a bit of money while I get practice. So... right now I am in the portfolio and skills building stage, and I still have much to learn. I do feel that this is something I have a bit of natural talent for, and think that over time I could become a very good photographer. At least, I love it so much that I am willing to work hard toward that goal. It feels good to have a goal, as well as the artistic outlet.

I will probably post a photo or two on this blog next week, but in the near future I will have a separate blog for photography stuff, as well as a Flash site. Ron has a graphic design student creating a logo for me, and I checked out her first drafts and love it! I also want to show the photos (after I edit them) to the family before anyone else. For now, I was just excited that I took this first step, and I think it went fairly well!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Going Green

Our siding guy just called and I'm too excited: they are going to start on our house next week sometime. I confirmed the color ("cactus", which is a sagey green, not too bold, and white trim) and he will order materials. So, in the sense of the exterior color, we are going "green"... although I am sure all our home improvements are really helping the energy efficiency of our house as well. The most recent being the basement door to our backyard. It had a jamb that was all rotted and the door did not seal well, so it was drafty. The jamb needed to be replaced before siding goes on, but the door itself is just fine. We got a fair amount moisture and spiders in our basement because of this. Well, Ron fixed it up. The door seals tight, the threshold is metal now (not wood), the exterior drainage is better, and so forth. There are a few other little things that Ron will have to get done by the end of this coming weekend... but it shouldn't be too hard. It is very motivating when you know that a week from now our house will be looking completely different!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


I had to give this post a title, and I almost choked on the word "tradition" because it's so cheesy! I spent too much time trying to think of something else, but there really is no way around it... that's what this is about...
Today I stopped over at my grandparents' house with the kids, so Lucy could contribute some artwork to the slider mural... which is a Halloween tradition that goes back for about 25 years. I didn't paint anything, and there is still some unpainted areas that will be taken care of by my cousins throughout the rest of the week. My grandma paints most of the outlines and the kids fill them in. When I was younger I looked forward to helping out. For a while, painting the haunted house was kind of a special honor. This year it was done by my cousin's girlfriend... my how times have changed! Maybe just because there are so many more of us! Whatever, she did a good job. It's blue and purple. I like it. Grandma always gets really into holidays and makes them so special, and it's cool to see my own children getting to experience the same things.

Check out some of these oldies with the very same slider, at my grandparents' house in Grandville, where my mom grew up.

We always did the trick-or-treating in their neighborhood because Kelly and I grew up in the "country" (read: Walker) and there were very few people home handing out candy on Halloween...that is, if you were willing to walk long distances down a curvy road in the woods, and walk up the long driveways to houses that were most likely empty at the time. My parents set out a basket of full-sized Snickers bars and almost every year they would come home and the basket would still be full. Now I live in the 'burbs and we will be able to take our kids trick-or-treating around our own neighborhood, which we plan on doing with Lucy this year. We'll still stop by my grandparents' earlier in the afternoon though, because it's tradition (and there's barbecue). If you are familiar with this family... you'll get the tradition joke (as in, "Take some gum... it's tradition."). They're big on tradition... but then again it is nice that they take such joy in these things, even if it goes a little overboard sometimes.

And, I suppose we may be guilty of it too, as new parents. We think about little traditions we could start, blueberry picking, Pronto Pups in the summer, Post Farms in the fall, whatever the case may be. Also the ones we remember that we want to continue. I still feel the need to listen to the Dolly Parton & Kenny Rogers "Once Upon a Christmas" album when decorating Christmas cookies... I guess the whole idea is to hopefully see that activity carry on throughout as many years as possible. If it's a good one, and the kids grow up with it, they might just pass it on to the next generation, because it brings back such good memories. So in that respect I guess my grandparents have gotten it right.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Migraine Minus the Pain

Several minutes ago I started noticing something strange in the vision in my right eye. Toward the outer edge there was a semi-circular/crescent shaped area of zig-zaggy and wavy lights. I closed my eyes and it was still there. It seemed strange because I had just eaten (since I know that not eating enough can sometimes cause wavy lines in your periphery), and I hadn't knocked myself in the side of the head recently... I thought I'd check it out online, by Googling my symptoms.

The Internet did not let me down! When I described what was going on as specifically as I could, I found that I was having a visual migraine (AKA optical migraine, AKA ocular migraine). It is technically a migraine, although I do not have migraine problems. It is actually most often not accompanied by a headache. This site describes this in fairly simple terms. I had never experienced this before, but learned that it can be brought on by fatigue, stress, and changes in estrogen levels. I think I fit the bill for those things. As I'm writing this, it is already starting to go away (they can last 20 min. to an hour on average). Anyone else experience this before?

We Tried

This afternoon we went to Hager Park in Jenison for some wandering around and picture-taking. The main goal was what you see above. This is a decent family photo, considering it involved pressing the 10 second shutter timer, running back and getting posed, trying to dupe Lucy into looking toward the camera (or at the very least, not running off in a blur)... she can be looking at anything as long as she looks happy-ish. Anyway, it's obvious (with a 2 year old, that is) when the photo session is over. By the time Lucy was no longer having any fun with this, we had taken a handful of photos with hopes of at least a couple turning out. As we hoped... about a couple turned out. Better than nothing! I have others, and color versions, etc. I imagine it would be much easier to take photos of someone else's family... being able to take more (no timer) and watch for the right moment - even a candid one where not everyone is looking at the camera. It was a nice day that didn't require hats and mittens, so I figured we'd make our best attempt while we still could! Snow in the forecast for Monday!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

What's New Here

Again it's been a little while since I posted anything new. Now I'm one of those people making a post about not posting. I'll try to write something of substance. I probably won't succeed.

Ron has recently gone on "strike" as a fan of the Lions. He has been a devoted fan, watching them lose every Sunday for the past several years. He held out hope at the beginning of each season, even trying to convince me that "this is the year they can actually turn it around." Well, until that actually happens, he is no longer following Detroit football (fine by me!). It's just too draining emotionally (and not to mention of precious free time).

Let's see, what else. Henry sleeps a lot. He has a bottle and falls back asleep. He sleeps well at night. He loves to be cuddled, but will fall asleep in his bouncer or crib too, as long as he's swaddled up. He did spend a decent amount of time awake yesterday evening. He's a pretty great baby.

I made more leaf cookies and decorated them. A double batch this time. I probably shouldn't make too many more cookies till Christmas because it's dangerous to have them in the house.

Lucy is going to be a butterfly for Halloween and we are taking her trick-or-treating down the cul-de-sac. Can't wait. I'm sure she'll want to eat all the candy as soon as it's handed to her. That should be an interesting battle. :)

I haven't taken many photos lately, but I probably will try to soon, since the fall colors are pretty much at their peak and I'd like to go to Hager Park or Spring Grove Park with the kids, and maybe... just maybe... try to do a portrait of the four of us! Our first family photo (other than the one in the hospital)! We'll have to bundle up.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Pot Roast

Tonight we had pot roast for dinner (in the crock pot.. I started it this morning). I think it's one of the easiest meals, and is especially nice on a cool fall day like today. Plus it makes the house smell great! Anyway, Lucy was eating hers and trying to share some with her daddy. I'm not sure where she got this little phrase, but she kept saying it. Maybe it's just the way she says it that's so funny. I had to grab the camera...

Friday, October 17, 2008

Post Farms

Yesterday afternoon Ron and I brought the kids to Post Farms. We got there around 4 PM so we beat a lot of the crowd. The first thing we did was have Lucy ride the Pumpkin Train (of Terror). She got strapped into a barrel and waited excitedly for the ride to begin. Once the tractor started up and the barrels started winding around in figure-8's and circles, she was no longer loving it... She never actually cried, but she held on for dear life and looked at us with a pouty lip. We waved and smiled every time she came around to play up the fun she was supposed to be having. Did that help? You be the judge:
Before they started ("this is cool!"):During the ride ("Why are Mom and Dad smiling at me? This is not fun!"):
After the Pumpkin Train, we walked over to the hayride. This was really what we came for - on the way there she kept saying "hayride, yaaay" and now that we had her all freaked out from the Pumpkin Train, she was sure to love the giant loud tractor and sitting in a pile of straw with a bunch of strangers... right? At first she was nervous again but quickly warmed up to it when we pointed out the pumpkins and cheered "wheee!" when we went over bumps and mud puddles. Before long she was laughing and throwing straw on my legs. Henry never woke up the entire time we were there!We were taken to the pumpkin patch where Lucy tripped on vines and tried to pick up pumpkins which weigh about as much as she does. She had fun though, wandering around and getting a little dirty. She found an old dried up corn cob and tried to eat it as I shouted "icky!" Life is so confusing and full of contradictions, isn't it Lucy?The hayride trailer returned a little while later to take us back to the barn, and that is when we got donuts and cider. We plowed through half a dozen in only a few minutes (they're very small donuts!). After eating (we were thinkin'!) we took her over to see the goats and miniature horses. She still wasn't too interested in petting them. She also saw a kitten which interested her much more than farm animals do, and since the crowds were starting to pick up, we decided to head home. I regret not taking any photos of Henry while there, but he wasn't really that excited about what was going on, and it was just easier to keep him bundled up in the carrier, since it was a little chilly for him (but perfect weather for a fall outing like this!). We hope to go back maybe once more this fall, if we get another nice day.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Checkup + Cookies

Yesterday I brought Henry to the pediatrician for his 2 week checkup. My mom came over and watched Lucy so I didn't have to bring her with. Henry was 9 lbs at birth (then lost about 2.5 oz.) and as of yesterday is up to 9 lb. 13 oz.! That seemed extremely high to me, but apparently it's only the 75th percentile for weight for boys (which is still up there, but not as drastically high as I thought). He also grew from 21 inches to 22 1/4 (90th %). Everything else is fine and we go back at 2 months for lots of shots!!!

This afternoon I made sugar cookie dough to make leaf-shaped cutout cookies. I went to get a lighter out of drawer (for a candle) and stumbled upon my oak leaf cookie cutter and got inspired. Lucy and Henry are both asleep so I quickly got the dough made, and plan on possibly baking them later tonight. It all depends on the amount of chaos going on and whether or not I'll be able to devote the time. If not, dough stays good in the fridge/freezer for a while! It's a good TV watching night and our great room is set up nicely to watch TV while baking or cooking. Sounds like fun to me...

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Awake Time

Henry's eyes are a lot more open, like I said yesterday. This morning I took a few photos of him, and suddenly he looks completely different. I might be biased, but he's quite the handsome guy. His eyes are very dark blue, so I'm not sure if they'll be blue or brown (but they don't look like they'll be blue and brown!)

He actually has been a lot less fussy as well, and is starting to fall into a loose schedule of eating, being awake, and then napping (that's the order we want to achieve... as in the book "Babywise", although he still falls asleep for a bit after having his bottle). It makes figuring out what he needs easier to do, if we can establish a routine... even this early. I like this method because it helps to avoid feeding as the default method of soothing a baby (if that isn't what they actually need). Of course, life with a newborn is all about patience and flexibility, and with Henry I am a lot more laid-back than I was with Lucy. If he is clearly hungry, I am less likely to worry about the fact that "it hasn't been 3 hours yet..." and just feed the poor kid! But if it has only been an hour, I can safely assume something else must be wrong.

Last night he woke up twice to eat, but hardly had anything before falling back asleep. I think that's a good sign that he is moving toward sleeping more at night and being awake more during the day. That could change tonight, however... so I shouldn't jinx myself!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Workin' Out

For the past couple of days Henry has been on-and-off cranky. For his first week he was sleepy and calm all the time, but not anymore. He can be calm occasionally. And of course when he's asleep he's an absolute angel! But lately he's been a bit fussy. He really likes being held, which I do enjoy. It makes it hard sometimes to take care of Lucy, or bust her naughty moments when I am tied up with Henry, but I've been able to juggle it as well as can be expected. I even manage to shower daily! Well, I guess I am placing trust in Lucy not to burn the house down while I am in there... she watches cartoons for a bit and I don't take that long.

Anyway, when Henry is awake, and not crying, I take advantage of the opportunity to give him some "tummy-time". He seems to already have strong neck muscles and can pick his head up and turn it from one side to the other. That's about his only trick for now. When he is awake and not crying, his eyes are much more open, and he can look around. It seems like he is focusing better on people and objects, especially lights on the ceiling. He is less curled up now, so suddenly he seems much bigger! Maybe he is bigger... with how much he eats! He has an appointment on Wednesday and we'll see how much he has grown.

I also had my first lesson in careless diaper changing. I hadn't experienced any baby boy accidents yet (you know what I mean), so I got a little lazy and left him uncovered for a moment... whoops. So that sleep-n-play lasted about 2 minutes!

He is napping now but his big sister is not... grrrrr...

Thursday, October 09, 2008


Our basement is finished, nothing fancy, but it has potential to be quite a nice rec/family room someday... maybe we'll get around to redecorating it, but for now it's kind of a mix of Ikea stuff and Craigslist / Bargain corner stuff, our big old TV, and our poker table/chairs. When we moved in things just sort of got placed down here and now it's out of control!

I spent just a few minutes clearing some shelves and getting ruthless with random things, like a plastic box with potpourri in it. Great for toddlers and babies, I know. Trash. Random "decorative" whiskey jugs and fake grasses. Andirons. Well, the andirons I like, but for now we just can't have them out. I have a CD tower that I am going to have to make a decision about. It's tall and has a high center of gravity. Anyway, that is just the tip of the iceburg.

The plan is to convert the basement into a place where kids and their toys are welcome, and we don't have to constantly tell our child(ren) "no" when they approach something sharp, metal, fragile, and/or heavy. Where walkers, tricycles, and singing lawn mowers can roam free. By this weekend, some of Lucy's larger toys will come down here, and she will be allowed to play in this whole new special space (Henry can do his thing down here too, although that may be limited to tummy time or sitting in a bouncer). This is also where our computer is located, and may be dangerously conducive to me Blogging / Facebooking. Back to work!

Wednesday, October 08, 2008


Today was my due date!

Tuesday, October 07, 2008


Here's a photo of our little boy from yesterday, looking peaceful.... (awwwww)

We've only known him for 9 days (I've known him a bit longer in a way, but only to the extent that he likes to be in a tight little ball - he still loves being swaddled)... but we're starting to see a tiny glimpse of Henry's personality. Ron and I both think he is a bit more mellow than Lucy was. He does not cry much or need much soothing to settle back down. I guess I vaguely remember Lucy having crying jags that would last an hour or more, usually late at night. They weren't terrible but I remember calming her down took a bit more effort. He cries when he's hungry and after he eats he is content and soon falls back asleep. He also spits out a pacifier and makes a face like he's thinking, "what is this silly contraption you keep offering to me?" Yet he does not suck his thumb...

He eats almost 3 oz. every 3-4 hours. Therefore, his nighttime schedule isn't too bad... if he eats around 11:00 or midnight, then at 3 AM, and then it's morning again. So, really I feel like I'm getting up only once in the middle of the night. I can handle that!

Lucy has actually been very happy lately, especially since she has a few new toys to keep her occupied. I think that having a birthday has helped a lot with her dealing with a baby taking my attention. Then again when Henry is sleeping, I play with Lucy. In fact, I probably play with her more than I did during the last few weeks of my pregnancy, when I was so tired!

Monday, October 06, 2008

Late Little Party

We celebrated Lucy's birthday last night with only our parents at our house. We wanted to keep it small and simple since it was going to be too hectic to plan anything really big this year. Lucy really "got it" this year about the whole birthday thing, and was banging on the front (storm) door as her grandparents arrived, and then she'd run around at top speed. We didn't waste too much time before letting her open her presents, and then a little while later we had carrot cake cupcakes and ice cream. She sat in awe as we sang "Happy Birthday" and then she blew out her two little candles without any help. Her blowing is more like a forceful "Fffffff!" but it worked!

After our parents left, Lucy was happy to get in the tub and play with her new crayons (for writing on the walls of the shower and tub... one of her presents from us). Then we sent her to bed, but of course all the excitement had her too jazzed up to sleep. She got up over and over until 9:45, and when she was in bed, she was singing "Happy Birthday To Youuuuuuu!" at the top of her lungs - she just repeats that line over and over. She was still singing it this morning when she was playing with her new kitchen set! I have a gallery with more photos HERE.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Lucy: 2 Year Photos

Yesterday I made an effort of getting some really nice photos of Lucy for her "2 Year Old" photos. Henry came along in the carrier and slept under a blanket, avoiding the mosquitoes. I decided to take them myself because a) it's cheaper, and b) I will take many many more of her than the ladies at Wal-Mart would, and therefore have higher odds of getting some really good ones. I have quite a few that I LOVE and that I think capture her personality, which is really what we hope to do with photos - as opposed to forced smiles and stiff poses. I have to thank my mom for helping wrangle her at Johnson park (on the side by the river), and I also got a workout trying to move around. Last year I went there with her and she was just barely walking... a lot less cardio involved for me!

I'm currently posting some to her new gallery on Smugmug but there might be more later... and here are a couple of my favorites:

Reunion, etc.

Last night Ron and I went to New Holland Brewing Co. to have a night out, and a couple of drinks - it's been a while. It was also the night of the Class of 2003 five-year reunion, which was held in the Fairbanks Room. Since we didn't know the baby would be born by then, we didn't register, but luckily I know the right people ;) and we got to go in anyway! Thank you Amber! It was awesome to see her and Ryan, and Tiece and Rob, and Jen, my old roommate, and her husband Kevin... as well as a few other people I hadn't seen in a long, long time. I had two drinks, which was plenty for me... I'm a lightweight again!

We went back to my parents' house to pick up Henry, but Lucy slept overnight there. This morning we went to church, where our pastor announced the birth of our baby as we were walking in. Henry slept the entire time, and it was nice to be back.

So now the kids are napping and I frosted and decorated the (carrot cake) cupcakes we're having tonight - a late celebration of Lucy's 2nd birthday with our parents. I wonder if she'll be able to blow out the candles!

Friday, October 03, 2008

I Want Cake!

This weekend is my five-year reunion for Hope College... class of 2003. Although we have a newborn, I am hoping to make it to New Holland Brewing Co. on Saturday night, and possibly seeing some old friends.

Meanwhile, both kids are napping, I managed to upload some new photos, and in a short while Ron should be home! It's hard when he leaves so early in the morning, but it is nice that he's usually home before 4:00. So, here's a non-Henry related tidbit about life at the Denning house lately:

Lately Lucy has taken up whining, and she's a master at it, and she's loud! It drives me crazy. I guess this is the deal with a two year old. Yesterday she had to sit in the naughty spot for TWO minutes (her sentence has increased from 1 since as of Wednesday), at least three separate times. She sits there (which is awesome) but cries almost the whole time. We warn her about whatever she is doing wrong, and if she goes and does it again, all I have to do is guide her by placing my hand on her back and tell her to go to the naughty spot (at the end of the hallway with the doors closed - thanks Trish for the location idea)! She plops down on the floor and I watch the clock. When she gets up she says "sorry" and gets an explanation of why she was punished. Yesterday the offense was constantly getting into drawers and cabinets in the kitchen (and the fridge!) and asking for cake! It was the getting into / slamming drawers and cabinets that was really the bad behavior. "I want cake!" she kept saying, which was just funny... until it became extremely whiny. We never talked about cake, we have no cake (we haven't even had her birthday cake yet, because we're doing that on Sunday). I think she just came up with this idea on her own, and expects that if she wants cake, cake shall be produced. Now. Cake does sound good though, doesn't it?

So, we're having a lot of success with warning her before she acts, telling her she'll have to sit in the naughty spot if she does such-and-such. I end up sounding like a broken record, but she's learning the deal.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

2 Photos

I think he already looks different! These are from today. More in our gallery.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008


This was a couple days ago. Lucy loves her Elmo balloon but the string came off. I didn't say anything to Lucy and for a few minutes she was distracted. I thought she might freak out if she saw Elmo out of reach... but Ron figured out how to get it down with a couple of unused pieces of laminate wood flooring, clapping them together. The string was tied on better after that.


We brought both kids to the pediatrician today for well-baby checkups. Lucy is very healthy, 35.5 inches tall (which we were told is the size of an average 3 year old... yikes!) and 31 pounds. Henry lost a couple ounces and is down to 8 lb. 12.5 oz. and I'm guessing his length is the same (21"). No one had to get any shots (which would've been a cruel way to begin Lucy's birthday)... so today's visit wasn't as traumatizing as usual.

So, as far as Henry is doing - he's eating every 2-3 hours (he chooses the "2 hour" option in the middle of the night however), and sleeps most of the day! We try to rouse him, but realize at this point there's not much we can do about a newborn sleeping a LOT. He opens his eyes more and looks around, and can pick his head off the floor when he's on his tummy. Still no signs of excessive spitting up, and he's happy eating whatever type of formula we give him (no particular brand preference here, just what's on sale). Lucy got to hold him for a little bit longer on the couch, and she was very happy looking at him and giving him kisses. She confuses his name "Henry" for the word "Hungry", so we're trying to get her to say it correctly (without resorting to teaching her to call him Hank... we'll let that happen in it's own time).

Happy Birthday To You!

Today Lucy turned TWO years old. It seems like only a couple days ago we were in the hopsital... oh wait..

Anyway, it is amazing how quickly our little baby girl has turned into an energetic, silly, intelligent person. It can be very hard to keep up with her at times, but it's worth it to see her accomplishing and learning new things every day.

With a brand new little one at home, it takes work to balance the attention we give to both kids. We made our best effort today to give her a happy birthday, even going out to eat at the Rainbow Grill for lunch. She got a free sundae of course, and I am glad the shirt she wore was brown because Lucy likes her hot fudge! It was weird to have a three-day-old baby out to a restaurant already, but Henry did well, had a bottle, and slept most of the time we were there.

I was reminded today that I need to take Lucy's "two year old" photos, I guess her "official" ones (since I'm going to do that myself). I will be a day or two late, but hopefully tomorrow I can get that done! I will also try to post some new ones of Henry, but as you can imagine things have been busy!